Sunday, 18 November 2007


The joke about the man from Wigan is an old one - it's really a variant of the Dick Whittington legend. It was told most famously (and most effectively) in an up to date version by the Lancashire comedian, Les Dawson. This is his version of it, taken from his 1983 book "Les Dawson's Lancashire" (published by Arrow Books)

It was in Wigan that I met a man who for me epitomizes the rugged nature of Lancashire. When I met him, I was a cub reporter with a small newspaper, the circulation of which was smaller than the network of veins in a prawn's leg. I sat in the drawing room of his large home set in thirty acres of deer park, and interviewed him about his fame and his riches, and his beginnings.

"My boy," he boomed over a glass of gin and tonic. "I came to Wigan as a callow youth, and all I had in the world was the one suit of clothes I stood up in. I was barefoot with a bundle tied on the end of a stick when I first walked into Wigan." He paused, puffed heavily on his Cuban cigar, and added with satisfaction: "That was only ten years ago, and now I own three cinemas, four blocks of real estate, six night clubs and a chain of supermarkets. I have three Rolls Royce saloons and an aeroplane, and a villa in Cannes."

I sat open mouthed listening to him. What a success story to give incentive to the restless youngsters of today. I leaned forward in my chair, pencil poised, and I said to him: "Tell me, sir, what did you have in the bundle on the end of the stick?"

He yawned and replied:

"Fifteen million pounds."

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